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Articles written by Elizabeth Hovde


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  • Pause, please: Misspending is a bad word

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|May 16, 2024

    This news story on KUOW gave me a hot flash: “‘Menopause is not a bad word.’ New bill aims to increase awareness, reduce stigma.” It highlighted a proposal to expand federal research on menopause, establish a national public awareness program and support improved training for health care providers. The price tag for the Senate bill titled the Advancing Menopause Care and Mid-Life Women’s Health Act? $275 million over five years. This is exactly the sort of putting wants ahead of needs that only...

  • Lawmakers failed on WA Cares changes

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|Apr 4, 2024

    A state public-relations campaign is underway suggesting that because the state Legislature passed a bill allowing people to use a WA Cares Fund benefit to receive long-term care outside of the state, it’s a sure thing you’ll benefit. That’s not a sure thing. I received an email from the state about the legislation Friday. It read, “Planning to leave Washington in the future? Now you can take your WA Cares benefit with you, thanks to a new law passed last month and signed by Gov. Inslee today....

  • HB 1959 would remove exemption for small employers when it comes to Washington state's paid-leave program

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|Jan 18, 2024

    The state should be rethinking its Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program, which often benefits people who are not in need of taxpayer help at the expense of low-income workers and employers. Instead, Washington state lawmakers are considering expanding payments to the program. House Bill 1959 has a public hearing scheduled for 8 a.m. on January 17 in the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee. The bill seeks to take away an exemption lawmakers promised small businesses back in...

  • Nurse Licensure Compact puts Washington state patients in safer position

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|Oct 26, 2023

    Nearly 1,300 nurses with a multistate license, instead of a Washington-specific one, are working in Washington state right now. That’s according to the Washington State Board of Nursing and thanks to lawmaker passage of Senate Bill 5499, which allowed Washington state to join the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The bill was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee in April. State regulations used to prohibit qualified, licensed, out-of-state nurses from working in the state until they acquired a W...

  • State agencies can rehire workers terminated for lack of a COVID-19 vaccine

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|Oct 12, 2023

    When Gov. Jay Inslee’s misguided vaccine mandate ended in May, his office said there would not be an outreach effort to rehire the more than 2,000 employees lost because of the condition for employment — even with staff shortages in the state workforce. Instead, fired state workers could reapply for their former jobs or seek new careers with the state just like everyone else. (I thought they should be asked to return, pretty please, and that the ask should be accompanied by an apology for a man...

  • Eradicating barriers to state employment is on Washington state's agenda

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|Oct 5, 2023

    Washington state should be acknowledging the many different routes to growing one’s work qualifications, including on-the-job training and advancement, apprenticeships, internships, vocational training and life experiences. A college education is not always the way to acquire skills that are pertinent to a state job. As the Harvard Business School put it, “Jobs do not require four-year degrees. Employers do.” Thankfully, Gov. Jay Inslee is on board with the idea that a college-degree requi...

  • Payroll tax for WA Cares has begun, but meetings continue on program details

    Elizabeth Hovde, Policy Analyst, Washington Policy Center|Aug 3, 2023

    We have lift-off! That was the theme at Tuesday’s meeting for the commission set up to oversee the ongoings of WA Cares, a state-imposed, long-term-care program that is supposed to be funded by Washington state workers and help some individuals fund activities of daily life, if they are needed someday. Many workers likely noticed additional cuts to their paychecks this month, even if they hadn’t heard about WA Cares. The tax is 58 cents for every $100 earned. Because the payroll tax just lau...

  • Another shot at WA Cares

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|Jul 13, 2023

    Let’s Go Washington is taking aim at the WA Cares Fund and a payroll tax that workers started paying this month with an initiative campaign. Initiative 2124, an Initiative to the Legislature, would make participation in WA Cares optional instead of mandatory and allow workers a way out of the state-imposed, insurance-like program at any time. That would be welcome news to many people who have other life needs that demand the attention of their monthly incomes. This should be interesting. I like...

  • State should protect Medicaid for people in need

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|Jun 1, 2023

    Washington state officials sound prepared and optimistic about the Medicaid wind-down that can happen now that a continuous-coverage requirement from the federal government has been lifted off Medicaid. The requirement was put in place during COVID-19 times and thought to be temporary. As the public health emergency went on and on, however, federal and state governments remained on the hook for providing Medicaid coverage to people who, in many cases, were no longer eligible for the...

  • Inslee, apologize to fired workers

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|May 18, 2023

    Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee is busy signing bills. I think he should start putting his John Hancock on apology letters to former state workers who were terminated because of his vaccine mandate. I doubt he will. In a press release about the move, the Inslee administration says that the end of the employment requirement “aligns with the end of the federal public health emergency and the lifting of vaccination requirements for federal employees and contractors on May 11. Last week, the World...

  • Vaccine mandate news - and a disturbing lack of news

    Elizabeth Hovde, Director of the Centers for Health Care|May 11, 2023

    A May 1 press release from the White House announced that the Biden administration has started the process to end COVID-19 vaccine rules placed on health care facilities receiving Medicaid and Medicare. A vaccine mandate on federal employees, contractors and international air travelers is also coming to an end on May 11, the same day that the COVID-19 public health emergency ends. “We are now in a different phase of our response when these measures are no longer necessary,” the White House say...

  • Poor now?

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|Jan 19, 2023

    The legislative session is in full swing, which means a lot of lawmakers are interested in picking winners and losers. Instead of creating equal opportunities, an equality of outcome is being sought. The Washington Future Fund, proposed in Senate Bill 5125 and House Bill 1094, is being heard this morning and later this week. Senate Democrats write that the bill “seeks to break the cycle of generational poverty by making a one-time deposit of $4,000 into an account for each baby in Washington b...

  • Vaccine authority still unclear

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|Dec 8, 2022

    In June, Gov. Jay Inslee dictated there would be a permanent COVID-19 vaccine mandate that extended beyond the reach of his emergency powers. When the Legislature convenes in the new year, our other elected representatives need to take that unfair requirement away. I was told it might be possible with a budget provision. For now, rules have been written — effective Nov. 4 — and a COVID-19 vaccine is now required for taxpayer-funded employment in state executive and small cabinet agencies. A lot...

  • Emergency ends, but many remain fired

    Elizabeth Hovde, Health Care and Worker Rights at the Washington Policy Center|Nov 10, 2022

    Don’t forget that even as Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee’s state of emergency ends after 975 days, there are still many people who were separated from their jobs because of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate the governor put into place. And that was done without a legislative body weighing in and offering information or debate. Families and individuals suffered, as did state services that ranged from ferry cancellations to increased stress on emergency responders. And even though Inslee says liv...

  • New payroll tax in July 2023

    Elizabeth Hovde, Policy Analyst - Centers for Health Care and Worker Rights|Oct 27, 2022

    A window to apply for an exemption from a payroll tax that begins in July 2023 is still open, but it will only be open for about two more months. It closes Dec. 31. If you’re one of the people who has private long-term-care insurance (LTCI), purchased before Nov. 1, 2021, you’ll want to jump through the exemption hoops available on the “Exemptions” page of the WA Cares website. WA Cares is a mandatory social program created by the Legislature in 2019 to benefit some Washingtonians who have lo...

  • Long-term care is a life need

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|Oct 6, 2022

    There wasn't much notice for August's webinar hosted by the WA Cares Fund. It was titled, "Long-Term Care Planning for Near-Retirees." I finally went back for a watch. In addition to presentations from government employees about changes that were made for near-retirees in the last legislative session when it comes to WA Cares - the new social program supporters and public agency heads are trying to pass off as an insurance policy for workers, even calling a new payroll tax a "premium" - there...

  • Who gets to escape the LTC payroll tax

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|Sep 22, 2022

    Right now, the only people who can opt out of the WA Cares Fund, a new long-term-care (LTC) program that is supposed to be fueled by a payroll tax on workers, are those who had private long-term-care insurance (LTCI) purchased by Nov. 1, 2021. Their numbers are below. Our 2019 study on the then-proposed law found that between 2022 and 2053, taxpayers would pay more than $30 billion for the state to realize net savings of just over $1.2 billion. We look forward to a new actuarial report that...

  • State health board rejects vaccination requirement

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|Apr 21, 2022

    The state Board of Health unanimously passed a motion to accept the recommendation from a technical advisory group (TAG) against a COVID-19 immunization requirement for school entry. Board members did reiterate support for the COVID-19 vaccines and hoped for voluntary vaccination of school children. The vote against a vaccine mandate for school children came after an hour-and-a-half of public comment and thousands of emails over the past months opposing such a requirement. (My public comment is...

  • Repeal - only real fix for long-term care

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|Mar 24, 2022

    As predicted, there was a whirlwind of activity in the first few weeks of the legislative session related to the WA Cares Fund. That’s the name of a new social program the state’s legislative majority created in 2019 — and that voters said “no” to in an advisory vote. It will soon bring workers in our state a new payroll tax of 58 cents for every $100 of wages. A delay of the long-term-care law that mandates the program and its tax was secured in the passage of House Bill 1732. Gov. Jay Insle...

  • We need fewer regulations, not more

    Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center|Feb 17, 2022

    At a recent press conference, Gov. Jay Inslee was asked several questions about the state’s nursing shortage, a problem that existed long before the COVID-19 era. Reporters were stabbing around at various solutions being proposed in the Legislature. Should we regulate hospital working arrangements? Should we limit what contract nurses are paid? How does the government protect nurses from burnout? Gov. Inslee summed up the concerns well: “The best solution is to produce more nurses that are ava...